The “Dirt Princess” has officially begun her transition to being known as the “Pavement Princess.” Hailie Deegan, the daughter of current Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series and four-time X-Games gold medalist Brian Deegan, scored a podium finish in her first start in a pavement Late Model on Saturday night at Madera Speedway in California.
The 15-year-old Deegan qualified and finished third in the opening race for the Jr. Late Model division at Madera Speedway. Prior to her first pavement Late Model start, Deegan set out hoping to score a podium finish. She accomplished that goal and considered the race a successful one.
“I would say it went really well,” Deegan told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “I kind of blew myself away to be honest. I went into the weekend just wanting to learn the car and learn how to drive around other people. I feel like I caught up to it pretty quick and it came very natural.”
It’s no surprise that Deegan said the biggest challenge she faced on Saturday was racing around other cars for the first time. Deegan has been fast in her prior test sessions on pavement, but adding other cars always makes things more difficult.
However, Deegan said that when she ran around other cars for the first time in practice on Saturday it was the first time she felt like she truly “got it” and understood what to do because she could “base myself against everybody.”
“Anyone can put down fast laps. That’s just a known thing. But when you’re with other cars it comes down to how aggressive you are, how smart you can be but also how relaxed.”
Saturday’s race at Madera wasn’t the only race Deegan ran last weekend, either. Deegan ran two races with the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series in a regional event at Glen Helen Raceway in San Bernardino, California. Deegan finished third in the Pro Lite feature and broke in the UTV feature.
“It was tiring, but fun,” Deegan said of her busy weekend. “I went from Madera on Saturday night and drove all the way to San Bernardino, which is like five hours. I didn’t go to bed until like four in the morning. I got up at six and at seven in the morning in San Bernardino I was at the driver’s meeting.”
Deegan said her next pavement race isn’t for another few weeks, but Saturday’s finish had her very encourage for the next one.
“Third isn’t the best spot on the podium, but it’s definitely a starting point and I think we can move up on the podium.”
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Southeast Editor – Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo Credit: Hailie Deegan Facebook